Support Fond du Lac/oppose PolyMet; Initiative for Tribal co-management of federal lands, and more

In this post:

  • Stand with Fond du Lac, oppose PolyMet
  • U.S. Interior Department proposes Tribal co-management of federal lands
  • Financial support requests for restoration of Dakota sacred site, mutual aid

Stand with Fond du Lac, oppose the PolyMet Mine and its pollution.

Fond du Lac Band members rely on fishing for subsistence and culture. The proposed PolyMet copper nickel mine is outside the band’s reservation boundaries, but mine polluted waters would flow towards Fond du Lac.

“The proposed PolyMet mine and processing plant would be located in tribal Ceded Territories where the Ojibwe/Chippewa have Treaty Rights to hunt, fish, and gather plants,” according to WaterLegacy, a nonprofit that is helping in the legal fight against the mine. “In addition, since the PolyMet mine project would be constructed in the headwaters of the St. Louis River, its sulfate and mercury pollution would affect downstream communities, including the Reservation of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the City of Duluth.

That pollution would increase mercury contamination of fish, which would “harm the health of fetuses, infants, and children, remove a healthy protein source, and undermine Band members’ ability to practice their culture on their homeland,” WaterLegacy said.

Map showing copper deposits (CU) and proposed mines. Image: WaterLegacy.

Fond du Lac is arguing that — based on the Clean Water Act — the U.S. Army Corps should reject PolyMet’s federal wetlands destruction permit.

This would set an important precedent. “No federal agency has previously recognized a Tribe’s right to object to federal permits as a downstream state, and no Tribe has ever exercised these rights,” WaterLegacy said. “It is vital that all communities support the Band’s rights and our State’s clean water.”

You have the opportunity to stand with the Fond du Lac Band and help protect the St. Louis River and Lake Superior.

To learn how to engage in upcoming public hearings and submit written comments opposed to PolyMet, check out WaterLegacy’s Take Action page.

For more information on the project itself, see WaterLegacy’s PolyMet page.

U.S. Interior Department proposes Tribal co-management of federal lands

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have issued a joint order “on Fulfilling the Trust Responsibility to Indian Tribes in the Stewardship of Federal Lands and Waters,” according to Congressional testimony.

The order includes moving forward on tribal co-management of federal lands.

Charles F. Sams III, Director of the U.S. National Parks Services

Charles F. Sams III, Director of the National Parks Service within the U.S. Department of Interior, explained the proposal on March 8 to the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. Here is an extended excerpt.

I am the first Tribally enrolled member to lead the National Park Service (NPS). I come from the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Northeast Oregon where I am Cayuse and Walla Walla with blood ties to the Cocopah and Yankton Sioux. As the 19th Director of the NPS, I share the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to strengthening the role of Native American Tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian Organizations, and will focus my comments today on the NPS’s cooperative stewardship of our national parks.

The NPS preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of 423 parks, 23 national scenic and national historic trails, and 64 wild and scenic rivers, for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. In addition to welcoming over 300 million visitors each year to these special places, we administer nationwide programs to preserve local history, celebrate local heritage, and create opportunities for close to home recreation. The NPS collaborates with a variety of Tribal nations, partners, and communities, to carry out our important mission.

The Biden Administration is committed to strengthening the role of Tribal communities in federal land management, honoring Tribal sovereignty and supporting the priorities of Tribal Nations. On November 15, 2021, Secretary Haaland and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack issued Secretary’s Order 3403: Joint Secretarial Order on Fulfilling the Trust Responsibility to Indian Tribes in the Stewardship of Federal Lands and Waters. This Secretary’s Order recognizes that federal lands were previously owned and managed by Indian Tribes and that these lands and waters contain cultural and natural resources of significance and value to Indian Tribes and their citizens; including sacred religious sites, burial sites, wildlife, and sources of Indigenous foods and medicines. In addition, many of those federal lands and waters lie within areas where Indian Tribes have the reserved right to hunt, fish, gather, and pray pursuant to ratified treaties and agreements with the United States.

The Secretary’s Order also directs agencies to increase opportunities for Tribes to participate in their traditional stewardship of present-day federal lands and waters and the integration of thousands of years of Indigenous knowledge and sustainability practices into federal management and operations, subject to the interest of each Tribe.

Charles F. Sams III, Director of the National Parks Service

For Sams’ full testimony, click here.

Financial support requests for restoration of Dakota sacred site, mutual aid

Two requests for financial help have recently come to my inbox. Give as you are able.

Lower Phalen Creek restoration work

The Lower Phalen Creek Project continues its work to develop the new Wakan Tipi Center and restore the area around it.

Wakan Tipi is a Dakota sacred site in present day Saint Paul, below Indian Mounds Park in the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. In addition to raising money for a Native-led cultural and environmental interpretive center, Lower Phalen Creek Project is raising money for restoration of Native plants.

Here’s its request:

With your support you will ensure our work in Environmental Education, and Urban Conservation and Restoration, and Cultural Connections & Healing continues. Donate today and:

  1. $50 will plant 36 Native flowers
  2. $100 will plant 2 trees
  3. $250 will support our Gifts of the Plant Nation webinar series
  4. $500 will sponsor a youth-led restoration event
  5. $1,000 will support a larger community project like the establishment of a community medicine garden


Mutual aid

This request comes from MN350:

The resistance against tar sands pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure is ongoing. That means Water Protectors’ need for mutual aid continues too. 

At MN350, we put frontline communities and their needs at the forefront of this vitally important work. In the fight to protect our environment, we are following the guidance of Minnesota’s Native leadership. Listening to our Indigenous partners, we assume our responsibilities to follow Native teachings. We take actions to protect the earth and all the beings she holds. MN350’s Mutual Aid group is following their lead and, as part of our spring fundraising appeal, seeking your support to provide resources for:

  • Water Protector healing, sheltering, and court support
  • Food security for Indigenous elders
  • Resources for individuals experiencing houselessness in the Duluth area
  • Resistance and treaty camps
  • Urban encampments in the Little Earth neighborhood of Minneapolis, creating refuge from sex trafficking and drug abuse
  • Cultural education camps and events 

100% of the proceeds from this appeal will go to MN350 Mutual Aid’s support of Indigenous Water Protectors and their communities.


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